SA gets digital terrestrial television

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

In recognition of World Technology Day, Sentech reaffirmed its intentions to bring digital terrestrial television (DTT) to South Africans.

Sentech played host to a group of students from Johannesburg Central College on a tour of the Sentech transmitter tower on World Information Society Day last Wednesday.

"With the excitement of the 2010 World Cup drawing closer, we recognise the strategic importance of our role in communications," said Sentech chief executive Sebiletso Mokone-Matabane.

But industry analysts said that Sentech would have a mountain to climb in getting the infrastructure rolled out.

Allan Gray market analyst Abdul Davids said: "Some of the infrastructure is so obsolete that they would have to completely rebuild it."

Sentech said that it was on track with its roll-out of the multi-channel multi-platform technology. DTT is transmitted on conventional radio frequencies, but using multiplex transmitters to provide more channels and better quality pictures.

"We have met all set targets and we're confident that the upgrade and installation of new equipment will be completed on time," said Sentech spokesman Pranill Ramchander.

In this year's budget speech the government pledged R120million to Sentech to fast-track the roll-out, which would be undertaken in three phases. The three major metropolitan areas would be first to receive the technology, followed by towns and cities and finishing with remainder of the country.

"The migration from analogue to DTT comprises 221 sites across the country," Ramchander said.

"The switch off date for analogue television is set for November 1 2011."